jfruh writes "Worries about snooping are now a permanent part of our computing landscape, but Google is attempting to ameliorate those fears by encrypting all data on its Google Cloud Storage service by default. Data is encrypted with 128-bit AES, and you can manage the keys yourself or have Google do it for you. A Google spokesperson said that the company "does not provide encryption keys to any government."" (Also at SlashCloud.)
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jrepin writes "Music player Amarok 2.8 has been released and it brings a fancy audio analyzer visualization applet, smooth fade-out when pausing music, many UI improvements and visual tweaks including better support for alternate color themes, significantly enhanced MusicBrainz tagger, power management awareness with a pair of new configuration options, and performance optimizations and responsiveness tuning all over Amarok."
dcblogs writes "The self-described nerds of President Obama's presidential campaign last year are back using big data analytics, this time to help Newark Mayor Cory Booker achieve a landside primary win Tuesday in the New Jersey Democratic primary for a vacant U.S. Senate seat. The data scientists from Obama and Romney campaigns recently formed their own consulting businesses within months of each other. The chief data scientist for Romney's campaign, Alex Lundry, co-founded Deep Root Analytics. He gives credit to the Obama campaign's data effort in 2012. But since last year's election, "what you are seeing is a flurry of activity on the right to make sure that we not only catch them, but surpass them," Lundry said. Meanwhile, the co-founder of BlueLabs, Chris Wegrzyn, a senior member of Obama's 2012 campaign analytics department, says last year was turning point for big data analytics in elections. "Usually the nerds in the back room don't warrant a great deal of attention, especially in politics," said Wegrzyn, "but the world is changing.""
cartechboy writes "Americans have enough trouble keeping from texting their way to dangerous — or worse — situations in cars. But now car makers, looking to differentiate with tech integrations and after jamming iPhone everywhere, are working hard at integrating Google Glass into vehicles. Consider this quote: 'Within seconds, I've got step-by-step directions to a coffee shop down the street beamed directly to my eyeballs.' Aside from being a little Jetsons, sounds potentially problematic. (Note, Mercedes had been doing R&D since July.) It goes without saying that someone is working on an integration of their own with a Tesla Model S. There is a coolness factor, there may be some utility — but not sure this is a great idea."
theodp writes "In a letter to Sergey Brin, Maria Konovalenko urges the Google founder to pursue his interest in the topics of aging and longevity. 'Defeating or simply slowing down aging,' writes Konovalenko, 'is the most useful thing that can be done for all the people on the planet.' Calling for research into longevity gene therapy, extending lifespan pharmacologically, and studying close species that differ significantly in lifespan, Konovalenko says 'it is crucial to make numerous medical organizations recognize aging as a disease. If medical organizations were to recognize aging as a disease, it could significantly accelerate progress in studying its underlying mechanisms and the development of interventions to slow its progress and to reduce age-related pathologies. The prevailing regard for aging as a "natural process" rather than a disease or disease-predisposing condition is a major obstacle to development and testing of legitimate anti-aging treatments. This is the largest market in the world, since 100% of the population in every country suffers from aging.'"
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Washington Post: 'The leader of the secret court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the government's vast spying programs said that its ability to do so is limited and that it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans. The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government's surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect Americans' privacy. Without taking drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of the government's assertions that the violations its staff members report are unintentional mistakes.' President Obama said in June, 'We also have federal judges that we've put in place who are not subject to political pressure. They've got lifetime tenure as federal judges, and they're empowered to look over our shoulder at the executive branch to make sure that these programs aren't being abused.' Not so much, Mr. President."
Nancy_A writes "Photographer and digital artist Michael K. Chung said he couldn't believe what he saw when he was processing images he took for a timelapse of the Perseid meteor shower this week. It appears he captured a meteor explosion and the resulting expansion of a shock wave or debris ring. After this article was posted, Universe Today received more 'explody' footage from the Perseid meteor shower, which has been added to the article."
New submitter Dialecticus writes "Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech has written an article about research into the physical properties of carbyne, an elusive form of carbon. A new mathematical analysis by Mingjie Liu and others at Rice University suggests that carbyne may achieve double the strength of graphene, stealing its crown and becoming the strongest material known to man. 'While carbyne cannot be stretched, it can be bent into an arc or circle — and by doing so, the additional strain between the carbon atoms alters the electrical bandgap. This property could lead to some interesting uses in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). By adding different molecules to the end of a carbyne chain, such as a methylene (CH2) group, carbyne can also be twisted — much like a strand of DNA — again adding strain and modifying the electrical bandgap. By "decorating" carbyne chains with different molecules, other properties can be added, too: Tack some calcium atoms on the end, which like to mop up spare hydrogen molecules, and suddenly you have a high-density, reversible hydrogen storage sponge. It’s also important to note that, just like graphene, carbyne is just one atom thick. This means that, for a given mass of carbyne, its surface area is relatively massive. A single gram of graphene, for example, has a surface area of about five tennis courts. This could be very important in areas such as energy storage (batteries, supercapacitors), where the surface area of the electrode is directly proportional to the energy density of the device.'"
barlevg writes "The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang breaks down two popular conspiracy theories: that HAARP is responsible for severe weather and that contrails from commercial airliners are actually 'chemtrails' sprayed for nefarious purposes. The article shows why each is preposterous to anyone with even an elementary knowledge of meteorology or an iota of common sense. The author readily acknowledges that his analysis will do nothing to convince the tinfoil-hat-wearing, vinegar-spraying members of the populace."
Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone about the economics behind college tuition. Interest rates get the headlines and the attention of politicians, but Taibbi says the real culprit is "appallingly high tuition costs that have been soaring at two to three times the rate of inflation, an irrational upward trajectory eerily reminiscent of skyrocketing housing prices in the years before 2008." He writes, "For this story, I interviewed people who developed crippling mental and physical conditions, who considered suicide, who had to give up hope of having children, who were forced to leave the country, or who even entered a life of crime because of their student debts. ... Because the underlying cause of all that later-life distress and heartache – the reason they carry such crushing, life-alteringly huge college debt – is that our university-tuition system really is exploitative and unfair, designed primarily to benefit two major actors. First in line are the colleges and universities, and the contractors who build their extravagant athletic complexes, hotel-like dormitories and God knows what other campus embellishments. For these little regional economic empires, the federal student-loan system is essentially a massive and ongoing government subsidy, once funded mostly by emotionally vulnerable parents, but now increasingly paid for in the form of federally backed loans to a political constituency – low- and middle-income students – that has virtually no lobby in Washington. Next up is the government itself. While it's not commonly discussed on the Hill, the government actually stands to make an enormous profit on the president's new federal student-loan system, an estimated $184 billion over 10 years, a boondoggle paid for by hyperinflated tuition costs and fueled by a government-sponsored predatory-lending program that makes even the most ruthless private credit-card company seem like a "Save the Panda" charity. Why is this happening? The answer lies in a sociopathic marriage of private-sector greed and government force that will make you shake your head in wonder at the way modern America sucks blood out of its young."
Mr.Intel writes "Should we believe it? Those of us under 55 who drink a lot of coffee – more than four cups per day – may be at greater risk of an early death. And not just death from heart problems, but death from all causes. The study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (abstract), followed people for almost two decades, and found that in both sexes, younger people were more likely to die of anything than people who drank less."
New submitter stderr_dk writes "According to Wikipedia, the initial release of Debian happened 16 August 1993. In other words, it's Debian's birthday and you're all invited. 'During the Debian Birthday, the Debian conference will open its doors to anyone interested in finding out more about Debian and Free Software, inviting enthusiasts, users, and developers to a half day of talks relating to Free Software, the Debian Project, and the Debian operating system.' Over the years, Debian has been forked a number of times. Some of the more well-known forks are Ubuntu and Knoppix. The latest release of Debian pure blend was Debian 7.1 'Wheezy' on June 15th 2013."
chicksdaddy writes "Haters keep buyin' — that appears to be the dynamic playing out in the ever-hot video game industry, where game developers say harassment and trolling from their rabid fans is turning them off of development completely, according to a report over at Polygon.com. 'Fans are invested in the stories and worlds that developers create, and certain design decisions can be seen by fans to threaten those stories and worlds,' said Nathan Fisk, lecturer at the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-author of the book Bullying in the Age of Social Media. 'Harassment silences and repositions content creators in ways that protect the interests of certain fan groups, which again is no justification for the kinds of abusive behavior and language seen online today.' The problem is widespread enough that it may even pose a threat to the future of the industry. Developers, both named and those who wish to remain anonymous, tell Polygon that harassment by gamers is becoming an alarmingly regular expected element of game development. Some developers say the problem was among the reasons they left the industry, others tell Polygon that the problem is so ubiquitous that it distracts them from making games or that they're considering leaving the industry."
An anonymous reader writes "This article takes a look at whether web apps will ever match desktop and mobile apps in terms of performance and usability. Jo Rabin, who's leading the push by web standards body W3C to get web app performance up to scratch, is optimistic web apps will eventually be the default choice for building the majority of commercial and business apps, while the article weighs up just how much web technologies need to be improved before this could happen. Quoting: 'Native apps are generally first to gain access to new platform-specific hardware features — be it navigating using a phone's GPS and accelerometer or taking pictures with a phone's camera. But if a particular hardware feature becomes popular, standards to implement that feature in the browser will always follow, Rabin said. Work is taking place within W3C to standardise APIs for web technologies to access many of the features found on modern smartphones. Ongoing work this year includes setting out a system-level API to allow a web app to manage a device's contacts book, a messaging API for sending and receiving SMS and MMS, new mechanisms for capturing photos and recordings, new event triggers that could handle mouse, pen and touch inputs, a new push API to allow web apps to receive messages in the background, new media queries for responsive web design, an API for exchanging information using NFC and precise control over resource loading times in a web document.'"
SmartAboutThings writes "Microsoft is definitely changing things in its gaming department: it has now announced in a support note on the Xbox site that it will be shutting down the Xbox.com PC Marketplace on August 22nd. This comes shortly after news that Microsoft hired former Steam boss Jason Holtman, whose mission at Redmond is to 'make Windows great for gaming.' The Microsoft Points system will be retired on August 22nd as well. The Games for Windows Live client software will not be affected, at least initially, letting you play previously purchased games."
cylonlover writes "If NASA has anything to say about it, Kepler is down, but not out. At a press teleconference on Thursday it announced that it has abandoned efforts to repair the damaged unmanned probe, which was designed to search for extrasolar planets and is no longer steady enough to continue its hunt. But the space agency is looking into alternative missions for the spacecraft based on its remaining capabilities. 'On Aug. 8, engineers conducted a system-level performance test to evaluate Kepler's current capabilities. They determined wheel 2, which failed last year, can no longer provide the precision pointing necessary for science data collection. The spacecraft was returned to its point rest state, which is a stable configuration where Kepler uses thrusters to control its pointing with minimal fuel use.'"
New submitter FirephoxRising writes "A new, protein-based treatment from the University of NSW breaks down cancers by destroying their internal protein structures. The approach has been tried before but always resulted in too much damage to muscles and the heart. The new approach allows the new class of drug to attack tumors without damaging normal cells. Professor Peter Gunning said, 'Our drug causes the structure of the cancer cell to collapse — and it happens relatively quickly.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Daniel Kottke and Bill Fernandez had front-row seats to the birth of the personal computing industry, as well as the most valuable technology company in the world. Both served as employees of Apple Computer in its earliest days: Kottke working with the hardware, Fernandez developing the user interfaces. Both have some strong opinions about the new feature film Jobs, which dramatizes the personal and professional escapades of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and his more technically inclined partner, Steve Wozniak. Kottke consulted on early versions of the script, attended the movie's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in February, and is currently planning to see it again shortly after its release on August 16. Fernandez, on the other hand, hasn't seen it and doesn't intend to, because he considers it a work of fiction and thinks it will upset him. In this lengthy interview with Slashdot, both attempted to distinguish the facts and longstanding geek legends from the instances of pure creative license exercised by the filmmakers."
schnell writes "The first-ever declassified story of Area 51's origin is now available, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed years ago by George Washington University's National Security Archive. The (only lightly redacted) document is actually primarily a history of the U-2 and A-12 ("Oxcart") spy plane programs from the Cold War, but is remarkable for being the first-ever official unclassified acknowledgment of Area 51's purpose and its role in the program. Interesting tidbits include that the U-2 program was kicked off with a CIA check mailed personally to Lockheed Skunk Works chief Kelly Johnson for $1.25M; a U-2 was launched off an aircraft carrier to spy on French nuclear tests; and the U-2 delivery program itself was actually done under budget, a rarity for secret government programs then or now."
NettiWelho writes "The Washington Post reports: The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents. Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Since Elon Musk announced the details of Hyperloop earlier this week, we've seen a number of experts debunking the technology involved, but at least one is more upbeat about the possibility of 600MPH train travel. Speaking to Alistair Charlton at IBTimes UK, professor Phil Blythe from the Institute of Engineering and Technology said: 'My gut feeling is, don't dismiss it out of hand just because it sounds a bit wacky,' adding 'You're always going to have long distance travel, and if there was something that could replace air travel between cities and hubs, and is low carbon [with] low energy requirements, it make sense to explore it, it really does.'"
AlbanX writes "A gang of suspected Romanian criminals is using 3D printers and computer-aided design (CAD) to manufacture 'sophisticated' ATM skimming devices to fleece Sydney residents. One Romanian national has been charged by NSW Police. The state police found one gang that had allegedly targeted 15 ATMs across metropolitan Sydney, affecting tens of thousands of people and nabbing around $100,000."
dhavleak writes "From Gizmodo: Earlier today, the Microsoft-built YouTube app for Windows Phone was unceremoniously disabled by Google. These kind of little inter-corporate kerfuffles happen from time to time, and usually resolve themselves without screwing too many users. But boy, Microsoft didn't take it quietly."